COUNCILLORS have called for legislation to be implemented to enable the Irish Coast Guard to become a standalone primary response agency.
Midleton-based Sinn Féin Councillor Danielle Twomey raised the motion at a recent meeting of Cork County Council and said that the Irish Coast Guard can’t hold weapons, not all of them have enforcement powers and they have no idea what funding they have year-in, year-out.
‘They are the unsung heroes who volunteer their lives to help others and I hope they get the support they deserve,’ said Cllr Twomey.
‘The reply to my motion says that the National Steering Group for Major Emergency Management has committed to reviewing it, but it’s not enough.’
Cllr Christopher O’Sullivan (FF) said it was a worthy motion and Cllr Twomey outlined the vulnerable position that the Irish Coast Guard find themselves in.
Cllr Paul Hayes (SF) said that as a public representative from West Cork, he values the work done by the Irish Coast Guard.
‘Sadly they are taken for granted and I have gotten calls from members who have expressed their frustration with the status,’ said Cllr Hayes.
Cllr Danny Collins (Ind) pointed out that of the four primary response agencies in the country, the Irish Coast Guard is the only one not legislated for.
‘The work they carry out from Toe Head to Kinsale is incredible and there are only three sector managers for the whole country when there should be six to nine at least,’ said Cllr Collins.
In a reply to Cllr Twomey’s motion, David Hickey, assistant chief fire officer, said the National Steering Group for Major Emergency Management has committed to reviewing Ireland’s Major Emergency Framework in 2017.
The issue of legislation is to be considered under this review, Mr Hickey added.
‘However, this is principally a matter for the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport which currently has responsibility for the Irish Coast Guard,’ said Mr Hickey.